A breath of fresh air was clearly needed for one particular German driver, who had been at the bottom end of the Formula One grid with Marussia F1 since its inception as Virgin Racing for the last three seasons. As the rumours speculated that 31-year old Timo Glock would be leaving the outfit on mutually good terms, the final race seat at BMW Motorsport‘s DTM squad for 2013 was still up for grabs.
Other drivers that had been left out of a race seat in Formula One were mentioned as high-profile candidates for the seat, including former Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari and Williams outcast Bruno Senna, who decided to pursue a race seat with Aston Martin in the WEC. But Glock’s already established ties to Munich were the deal-breaker that saw him coming back to a motorsport stable of prominence, as well as the chance to be really competitive since his days with Toyota in F1.
Timo took time out of the hectic Brands Hatch weekend to speak to TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk over just a couple of topics, but first we ended up discussing his return to BMW, where he had also been a test driver for the F1 outfit alongside current triple crown champion, Sebastian Vettel, who was the man that got the call after that nasty high-speed impact suffered by Robert Kubica at Montreal in 2007.
“Yes, it was a very proud moment, especially when we’d got the deal done in such a short time. It was very intense from Christmas until the first week of January where everything was tight,” said the father of one, who welcomed Mika to the family along with partner Isabell earlier this year.
He went on to explain that it was a non-stop affair to get the deal signed after he left Marussia on January 21st this year, but he was incredibly proud that it had gone through: “The first time I came back to Munich, I put on the BMW Puma jacket with the propeller on it. This made it feel just like I was back home, especially as there are so many people there that I remember from the past, as well as being out in the car for the first time in Valencia.”
The Team MTEK driver is now having to find his feet rather quickly in the DTM, especially as it is so much closer this year with the fact that the technical regulations have been frozen apart from two major differences, the addition of DRS and option tyres, a format he has a lot of experience of from Formula One. He is still really enjoying his new adventure in the series, but still has his struggles during the early days getting used to it all, as he went on to explain: “However, I would love to have more time in the car. With the way that we just have 90 minutes to get the car set-up just right, the time just goes so quickly, which is such a shame to be so short, as I need all the time that I can get behind the wheel.”
He has also shown notable improvement since his first time behind the wheel of his Deutsche Post BMW M3 DTM in Valencia, but there is still a lot of progress to be made as the season carries on. His competitive nature was clear for all to see at Hockenheim, running as high as P2 in the race after qualifying in P15. That was until that unfortunate pit stop in Lap 17, which put a stop to his run of good form that weekend, after the loss of his right rear wheel just a few corners later.
We talked to Timo just after he qualified P11 at Brands Hatch before Martin Tomczyk’s exclusion, and asked him about the changes that the team made, as well as how he fared from a driver perspective, when it came to setting up the car and learning the track: “To be honest, we didn’t touch the car set-up wise today. For me, it was important to somehow learn the track, even if it only has five corners, as it is tricky to drive with some difficult corners to negotiate. You need to get it right, and if you don’t have the experience, you struggle, and that is what I experienced this morning in Free Practice.”
He was clearly very honest about the fact that he wasn’t that confident in the car, but coupling that with learning a new track in the United Kingdom was part of the reason, but in the DTM, with the playing field being so level in terms of technical regulations, he was more optimistic of where the performance can come from: “It was a struggle to get the tyres working like how Marco (Wittmann) did, as this morning he was very strong, but at the end, we didn’t touch the car as I said, because for me it was clear that there is more time in me as a driver rather than the changes made in the car.”
The grip in Q1 was not there for Timo, but after a few small changes when it came to tyres, with possible pressure adjustments, camber and toe-in being just some of the tolerances that can be changed, it all started going the right way: “In qualifying, the first run was really bad as well with no grip. The second run, suddenly, I don’t know how we did it, because we didn’t really change much on the car when it came to the tyres, I had much more grip and was 7 tenths quicker in P4.
“That was when I had real confidence in the car for the first time and could push and realize that with that kind of car, it was so much easier to be able to learn the track, so as to find out where you need to push and where you don’t.”
He was running as high as P4, but as the stewards are becoming more vigilant on drivers exceeding the track limits, his time was deleted in Q2, with his eventual 10th place on the grid being a welcome sight in the DTM, as he is progressing nicely and fitting in rather well with the team in general.
He has had experience of both versions of the DRS in F1 and DTM, especially as he was able to see what advantage that it may or may not provide in the race at Brands Hatch: “Yes, I think DRS is a help to overtake, especially as last year it was difficult to overtake here. It gives you a possibility, which is very track dependent, so at Hockenheim it worked, but I don’t think it won’t work here. Turn 1 is just too special to just dive in, as you may end up getting in more trouble from the middle of the exit and run wide into the gravel, as there is one line that is quick.”
That was very true, as the drivers were not risking the use of DRS out of Graham Hill Bend into the Cooper Straight, but several passes were completed if the drivers had the DRS activated out of Clearways. Timo was optimistic about the fact that if a driver was using the Hankook option tyres against a driver in front on the prime tyre, then there was a possibility.
However, his race was one filled with unfortunate happenings, especially with his off-track excursion early in the race, where Roberto Merhi went up the inside of his M3 DTM early in the race, leaving Timo no other choice but to end up going up the hill, which saw his race strategy compromised, but he did finish the lap marathon that is the race at Brands Hatch, but only in P15.
We look forward to seeing just how much of a chance DTM’s other Timo has when the series goes to Styria next weekend, as the 22 drivers will be fighting it out tooth and nail on the Red Bull Ring, where Audi dominated last year, as Edoardo Mortara did the double on the Austrian track. Will the ex-F1 driver show more of his true potential in Spielburg next week? The days are counting down until we find out how the next chapter in Timo Glock’s DTM adventure pans out…